Excerpt and mele translations by Mary Kawena Pukui-

This is one of the three mele hoʻoulu lāhui [song to encourage the increase of the Hawaiian race] composed for Queen Kapiʻolani when she went around Kauaʻi to interest her people in caring for their babies. A mele of this type emphasizes pana, or place names. In composing such a mele, care was taken not to use inauspicious words, but names of noted places were brought out and so there were no underlying meanings.

Note: At certain times of the year the Waimea river turned partly a reddish color. Half of the stream would remain as it always had, and the other half turned a reddish color, as though two streams were running side by side.

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Hanohano Waimea i ka wai kea,

Beautiful is Waimea with its limpid stream,

E paʻihi i ka wai ʻula ʻiliahi,

Made beautiful with red water like sandalwood sap.

Ua ahi uka i ke ahe a ke Tiu,

The upland is stirred by the blowing of the Kiu,

ʻIke i ka ʻauwai a ka menehune

And there one sees the Menehune Ditch,

ʻO ke tupuʻeu o Kīkīaola.

Built by the wonder-workers of Kīkīaola.

Nānā ʻia e Poliolehua

One looks out to Poliolehua,

Aia i ka laʻi o Maluaka.

There in the calm at Maluaka.

Kuʻu lei ʻohai alo ʻehu kai,

My lei of ʻōhai blossoms came from the sea,

He hoa kaʻana no Limaloa,

To be a plaything for Limaloa,

No ka ʻōlali o Kalanamaihiki.

That wonderous person from Kalanamahiki.

Hiki mai ke aloha wela Waineki

Love comes like a burning to Waineki

Hoʻapaʻapa lāi Papiohuli.

To slow the progress of Papiohuli.

E hui e pili me Panaʻewa

Turn and come close to Panaʻewa

Me ke one haʻaheo o Luhi.

And the proud sands of Luhi,

Luhi hewa i ke anu o ʻAipō

Weary with the cold of ʻAipō

Iā uka noe anu o Alakaʻi.

In the cold, misty upland of Alakaʻi

Haʻina mai ana ka puana

This is the end of my praise

ʻO Haliʻalaulani kou inoa.

In honor of Haliʻalaulani.

Mele are an invaluable primary resource for Hawaiian scholarship and cultural connection. The Welo Hou: Building Connections to the Roberts Mele Collection project, funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, will improve the digitization, indexing, and accessibility of a unique and treasured collection of mele dating from pre-Western contact to the early 1900s. This pilot project will serve as a model for improved access to and increased engagement with the Bishop Museum Library & Archives’ other mele collections.

Welo Hou, or to unfurl once again, aims to provide more opportunities for researchers of all levels of Hawaiian language and cultural fluency to access the Roberts Collection with ease, and honors the connections between Hawaiian voices of the past and our community of the present.


This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services NG-04-17-0218-17